Monday, April 12, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 5-1: Please Continue Stealing Pirate's Booty

Wow, the Giants just keep it going and being lucky to some extent.  I was totally wrong about Houston.  Part of that was Berkman being out and me not accounting for it, but still, their pitchers were not push-overs either, particularly in Houston, so kudos to the Giants offense for taking care of them.  And the Giants lucked out with Chipper Jones hurting himself the day before our series, and ended up missing the whole series.  Given how we squeaked out the win on Friday, I have to think that him being around would have changed that story.

Still, the Braves have a good rotation, and we faced Hudson, Lowe, and Kawakami, who have been very good pitchers before.  And we scored 13 runs total, 5 runs in the first and 6 runs in the third game, so the offense did very nicely against good pitchers (though it wasn't Hudson we scored on, it was their bullpen).

In any case, the Giants can't help it if they are given some lucky breaks.  The key is that they are taking advantage of those breaks and winning, whereas before they might have lost the games anyway.  And Friday's come from behind win after the 8th matches all of 2009, where they only did it once all season.  Plus, until Sunday, they had been doing it without Sandoval being the big power hitter he is.  And now they are 5-1.

Got the matchups from Schulman.  As I noted before, I think the Giants should win the series.

Game 1:  Ohlendorf vs. Zito

Ross Ohlendorf had a great breakout year in 2009 with the Pirates.  He was stuck with the Yankees and the trade to the Pirates gave him the opportunity to start and he took it and ran with it, with a nice 3.92 ERA.  He did that with a 5.6 K/9, which only worked because he had a K/BB of 2.06.  Still, a BABIP of .269 suggests that he was very lucky with his balls in play, with a likely regression to .300, unless he is one of those crafty pitchers able to get away with that, which are very rare, and so the best assumption for now is that he will regress.  In addition, he was like Ishikawa last year, great numbers at home but terrible on the road (2.64 vs. 5.56 ERA).

Meanwhile, Zito has done better each year in AT&T, rising to a 3.92 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and K/BB of 2.81 in 2009, both very good for him, and heck good for any pitcher.  His velocity sounded like it was still there in spring and he was great in his appearance against the Astros, throwing a DOM start.  We should win this game.


Game 2:  Maholm vs. Cain

Paul Maholm has been like Ohlendorf but for his career with the Pirates, great at home, horrible on the road (3.58 vs. 5.24 ERA, poor K/BB either way).  He has been better in SF for 3 starts, 4.00 ERA, good strikeout rate, good K/BB, so he looks like he could be tough, though his results have been up and down, and it was worse in last year's game, against our poor offense.  

Matt Cain has been way better at home than on the road (3.24 vs. 3.88).  However, the prior two seasons while still better, his road numbers were very to his home.  But, in any case, this is a home game for him, so he looks like he should rock again, for, although he gave up a number of runs in his first start in Houston, he struck out 5 and walked none, which he hardly ever did prior in his career, walks was his nemesis.  The Giants should win this matchup.  

Game 3:  Morton vs. Sanchez

Charlie Morton got free of the Braves and got to start 18 games for the Pirates, doing relatively well with a 4.55 ERA but like the others, great at home, horrible on the road (3.10 vs. 6.04 ERA, horrible K/9, poor to bad K/BB).  However, he had a very nice start against us last season, which seems flukey, but then again, it was last year's offense.  

Sanchez, I think, was a bit overwhelmed by the pressure of pitching in our home opener, but overall his problem was that the balls were finding holes and becoming hits.  He had 6 K's vs. 2 BB's, very good, in 4.1 IP but gave up 7 hits, though no homers.  He seems to not do well with the first start of the season, the past couple of years.  He has been almost equally bad at home and the road during his career, but he did really nicely last season with a 4.04 ERA.  And as I noted before, he did well after reverting back to his mechanics and he had a nice spring, but until he's more consistent, I think we just have to take one start at a time with him.  I would put this as a tossup right now.

Giants Thoughts

The guys to worry about are Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones (another reject who has found a home with the Pirates and the opportunity to do well, and he has so far), along with old pro Ryan Doumit behind the plate.  Iwamura is good too.  But the lineup otherwise look like the land of failed top prospects:  Jeff Clement at 1B, Ronny Cedeno at SS, Andy LaRoche at 3B, Lastings Milledge in LF.  And they have Delwyn Young, Bobby Crosby, and Ryan Church on the bench.  

They have averaged 5.0 runs scored per game against good rotation that LA has and faced both Haren and Edwin Jackson in Arizona.  So they have produced so far.  But Zito, Cain, and Sanchez should be on par if not better than what they faced against LA and AZ.

With these matchups, it looks likely that the Giants should win the series, and end up at least 7-2.  The Pirates pitchers are still relatively young and inexperienced, so they could pull a rabbit out of the hat and surprise us, but the more likely outcome is that they come in and not do all that well, while our guys have been good, particularly at home.  But with three games, odds are an outlier will happen, still I think it looks good for a series win, with some possibility of a sweep.

Obviously, 5-1 is a great start, but there are many games to be played.  I still think that 90+ wins is doable for this team, and if the offense can continue to produce up and down the lineup, with no one player driving the scoring, but a clear team effort happening (even with Renteria's hot hitting, it did not result in a lot of runs, which is a negative) with balanced contributions, then I think we could get more.  But it is too early to say either way, right now we should just enjoy each win.  A nice block of winning early on like this would go a long way towards keeping the other teams out of reach, though.

2 comments:

  1. Maybe I'm just remembering the bad games, but it seems like the Giants figuratively stub their toe on the Pirates every year. The Bucs are one of those teams the Giants should beat but never seem to.

    ReplyDelete
  2. DrB, as a fellow long-term Giants fan, basically I remember those as well, whether it's the Pirates today, or whichever team that is crappy back in the 70's and 80's.

    I guess those just linger for us because that's like gold that fell through our fingers, we know the margin for error is small, and thus we are crushed when they blow opportunities like spanking the Pirates like we should.

    I think this season will be a long gauntlet for Giants fans, where our belief will be tested with each series, in one way or another, regarding the fitness of this team to compete enough to get into the playoffs.

    For this series, it's whether this group of men are gamer enough to get 'er done and win the series (and ideally sweep) and not let down, particularly with the D-gers series in LA coming up, they might be looking ahead, beyond the Pirates. Hopefully they focus on this series and beat them like we think they can.

    ReplyDelete

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